This week on Goodreads.com, we heard from one of our advertising staff, Rikki Lux, as she informed us on her latest read, Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stoies. From our very own Goodreads efficionado, Lindsey Bosak, we learned more about how Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life.
“And it is a happy ending, perhaps, in the way that myths and fairy tales have happy endings; only if one forgets the bloody, dark middles…I like to think it’s a happy ending, though it is the middle that haunts me.” – Lucky Chow Fun
After finishing Lauren Groff’s Delicate Edible Birds, I realized that all of her narrators don’t know what they want. Often, they never attain it, and they lose a large part of themselves. They seek happiness, clarity, or love. They yearn for all of the right pieces to fall into place. They hold onto their “if only…” They see their mistake after losing something, realizing that it was what they wanted. Their lives are a delicate balance between sacrifice and abundance, between love and disappointment.
It was heartbreaking to read Groff’s stories of regret and grief. But, it was also interesting to be an omniscient observer to the ever-present condition of humans who do not know what they want and yearn for the things they don’t think they have. Through the tale of a woman who gave up her big-city, career-driven life for a small-town existence with the man she loved, the ending of ultimate grief is gut-wrenching. Before she could apologize for hurting him, she lost him forever. She then knew that she had happiness. She found that “grief is becoming a stranger to oneself.” Not only did she lose what she didn’t know she had needed, she had lost herself.
Lauren Groff’s stories aren’t just about regret and grief, however. The narrators of her stories are flawed – they are vain, selfish, uncertain – but they have redeeming qualities and validating excuses that explain their failures. They seek redemption and revelation; they search for change.
Groff’s stories flow like poetry. Her descriptive style mirrors her stories – both beautiful and reminiscent of the ugliness that people don’t want to see. Her stories are often as fluid and changing as water: “There is no ending, no neatness in this story. There never really is, where water is concerned. It is wild, febrile, kind, ambiguous; it is dark and carries the mud, and it is clear and the cleanest thing. Too much of it kills us, and not enough kills us, and it is what makes us, mostly. Water is the cleverest substance, wily beyond the stretch of our mortal imaginations. And no matter where it is pent, no matter if it is air or liquid or solid, it will someday, inevitably, find its way out.” This quote, the ending to Groff’s story Watershed, perfectly describes both her narrators and her stories.
“This is what songs do, even dumb pop songs: they remind us that emotions are not an inconvenient and vaguely embarrassing aspect of the human enterprise but its central purpose. They make us feel specific things we might never have felt otherwise.”
Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life is a book that targets the fanatical love each person has inside them, regardless of whether the love is for music, like Almond’s, or for movies, knitting, cooking, or anything really. Tied together with humorous, endearing, and sometimes downright unbelievable anecdotes, Almond paints a picture of a love and passion for something that makes life worth living, or at least a little more exciting.
Everyone has something they are or have been borderline obsessed with during their lifetime, and the book’s satirical, self-help format reminds those people that they are not alone in their fanatical love. This novel has the ability to bring together millions of people, all with different lives and loves, based on the fact that they have all been there, been that person waiting in line for hours hoping to glimpse an idol, spending more money than is probably sane on paraphernalia only other fanatics would understand, and, occasionally, lying to their boss for the chance to interview a rock legend.
Almond assures the reader that being a “Drooling Fanatic” is not necessarily bad, despite what family and friends might think, and it can make for some pretty amazing experiences. His stories, tips, and lessons covering everything from his years as a music critic, to his thoughts on Toto’s “Africa” remind the reader there is no harm in loving something as much as he loves music. Love, after all, keeps life interesting.